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Acrobatic dance troupe delights students

Posted: Thursday, Nov 29th, 2012


Dazzling costumes, live music and plenty of drama filled the stage Thursday at Watsonville High School with Tandy Beal's performance of "Mixed Nutz." (Photos by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian).


WATSONVILLE — The 500 Ann Soldo Elementary School students who packed Watsonville High School’s Goicovich Gym Thursday morning gasped with delight when a Chinese acrobat deftly spun several paper parasols on her feet, and clapped along to an exuberant hip-hop dance number featuring performers clad in bright rainbow colors.

But when a group of performers appeared on stage dressed as giant babies and performed an exuberant acrobatic routine, the kids roared with laughter and became thoroughly engaged in the hour-long performance.

The show, titled “In a Nutshell!! A Family Performance of Mixed Nutz,” will be performed Sunday at the Steinbeck Institute For Arts and Culture at Sherwood Hall.

Designed by Santa Cruz dance instructor Tandy Beal, Mixed Nutz! is a takeoff of the traditional holiday favorite “The Nutcracker.”

Indeed, the performance features several dance scenes and with a holiday theme retains elements of the classic show. But with several high-octane juggling acts, an astoundingly flexible acrobat and a dance by Folklorico dance group Corazon En Flor, among other things, the overarching motif is a unique creation that brings to mind the rich artistry and acrobatics of “Cirque du Soleil.”

Ann Soldo principal Sylvia Mendez said she received a call from Beal, asking if the troupe could put on an abbreviated version of the show for her students. It was the second time the school has seen the performance.

Such opportunities are important in a time when school districts are slashing arts programs, Mendez said.

“I remembered how delighted my children were to see something they don’t usually get to see,” she said. “For many of them it opens up a new world.”

The show was set to the rhythms of Oakland-based a cappella group SoVoSó, which performed songs that included percussion sounds all made without instruments.

After the show, Beal said she wanted to spark the kids’ imaginations.

“I think if the imagination is developed in a child, anything is possible in their lives,” she said. “If they cannot imagine it, it won’t happen. I want the children to be inspired.”

Since its inception in 1971, Beal’s troupe has traveled to 48 states and garnered critical acclaim from the New York Post, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Los Angeles Times.

•••

“In a Nutshell!! A Family Performance of Mixed Nutz,” will be performed 3 p.m. Sunday at the Steinbeck Institute For Arts and Culture at Sherwood Hall in Salinas. For information, visit www.tandybeal.com or www.steinbeck.org. For tickets visit www.brownpapertickets.com.

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